About Ken Kaczmarek

Hi there, I’m Ken Kaczmarek, one of the co-founders of Flex.io.

Bean counter by trade, data wrangler by fate and homebrewer by necessity. I’ve gotten into trouble all around the world and currently on the lam in Chicago. Don’t tell my kids; they still think I’m on the up and up. A strong believer that anyone can make a good pie filling, but true transcendence can only be found in the crust.

Entries by Ken Kaczmarek


As folks in our beta community may have noticed this weekend, we made a bit of a UI pivot. Literally.  We're delighted to introduce vertical pipes. At the conception of Flex.io, when the design was geared to a more dialog-centric, non-technical audience, it made sense to have a horizontal pipe builder, which offered space to provide a range of dialog controls, such as list boxes and drop-down selectors. However, as we moved away from dialogs toward commands and refocused the product on the developer community, we found that the horizontal pipe interface was bursting at...

In the course of our private beta, I'd estimate that two-thirds of our sign-ups have come from developers and other IT folks. But, when you're kinda, sorta reinventing the query builder for data prep and ETL, why would a developer—a demigod who can pump out a script on demand—care? The short answer: data glue is annoying. For everyone. Even for engineers who can integrate APIs into their PHP or make data prep magic happen with Python, it's often a time-sucking sideshow -- particularly when there's a long to-do list of core development...

Who needs a #drinkwithharry? Over the past few weeks, I tasked myself with listening to all ~32 hours of the SaaStr podcast, in preparation for the SaaStr Annual conference. Each show is an incredibly dense, 20-minute nugget on the business of SaaS. IMHO, it is totally and completely worthwhile to meander through twice-weekly. However. Powering through them all in one go was the equivalent of a Brain Blaster—more like binge-watching Planet Earth than Portlandia. Do as I say, kids, not as I do. So, what did I learn? Well, a ton. Let's try...

As everyone knows by now, data is the new black. Conventional wisdom says businesses will either be data-driven or be at a serious competitive disadvantage. But, as everyone also knows by now, it takes significant effort to get raw data refined before you can extract its sweet analytic elixirs. Flex.io is a productivity tool that falls squarely into this world of data preparation. However, data preparation is a pretty broad category itself -- and can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. So, we recently set out to create a ~1 minute...

In my previous post, I explored commonalities found in any given "data project." Here we'll run the first of the five gauntlets: data access. A few moons ago, we visited a customer to talk about some analytics he wanted to explore. Big company. Big ideas. Big IT infrastructure. The idea sounded great and we were happy to help 'em out. "All we need is the XYZ file," we said. Long pause. "Well, I can ask IT to pull an extract, but it will probably require an IT project. I'll call you next year." The phrase...

At this point, we've all heard the news. Data is growing at an exponential rate. Data is the new oil. Data is a strategic advantage. Data is big. Data is small. Certainly Goldilocks believes her porridge data is jusssst right. Meh. Data is simply a means to an end. So, how does one go from "data is super awesome" to actually getting value from it? Well, it's a long and winding road, often called "a data project." I recently came across a nice article discussing the process of building a predictive application with machine...

Like Doctor Dolittle's famed pushmi-pullyu, enterprise data projects have a serious agility problem. A recent story comes to mind. I was on a call with prospective customer to request data feeds for an analytics project.  We had performed a successful trial project, the business case was approved by management and everyone was happy. At last, we were ready to go into production. We simply needed data feeds for two well-known, standard tables from a commonly used enterprise system. We'd already worked with an extract and had everything set with the integration and analysis...

It's a story as old as time. It's a story of evolution, a story of freedom.  And it's a story of stuffing a genie back into its bottle. Yes, I speak of the ancient enterprise battle royale:  Productivity vs. Control. These battles are constantly happening throughout the enterprise, usually with very good intentions.  But, like so many good intentions, they often pave the road to, um...

Gusty winds and 14 degree temperatures are apparently no match for pizza, beer and code. Around fifteen people braved the frozen tundra of Chicago last week to hang out at the Flex.io office for the latest Chicago MySQL Users Group meetup.  All kinds of folks from the local data community were represented – from DBAs to data scientists to BI consultants to data quality engineers. After some time talking tech whilst sipping beverages, we were treated to a presentation by Arfon Smith of GitHub.  Arfon is an astrophysicist by training, an entrepreneur...

Much electronic ink has been spilled on the rise of the data scientist. They've been called sexy. They've been called unicorns. And, we clearly see a direct correlation between this recent adulation and the uptick in searches for "sexy unicorn". (At least, I hope that's the reason). As discussed previously, capturing a unicorn is great if you can find it, but it takes a village to get data stuff done in the enterprise.  Michale Mout once put together a Venn diagram based on the Wikipedia definition of data science: In the response to...